Emory joins NIH in launching All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine

May 22, 2018

The National Institutes of Health recently opened national enrollment for the All of Us Research Program—a momentous effort to advance individualized prevention, treatment and care for people of all backgrounds, in collaboration with partner institutions across the country.  

Emory is part of the All of Us Research Program’s SouthEast Enrollment Center (SEEC) network, which also includes the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium led by the University of Florida.

People ages 18 and older, regardless of health status, can enroll. Volunteers will join more than 60,000 participants across the United States who have already enrolled in All of Us. The overall aim is to enroll 1 million or more volunteers in communities that have been underrepresented in research to make the program the largest, most diverse resource of its kind.

“We are excited to begin the enrollment phase of All of Us at Emory and with our SEEC network partners,” says Michael Zwick, PhD, assistant vice president for research in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “All of Us has the potential to speed the ongoing transformation of our health care systems, empower individuals to actively manage their health and healthcare, and promote critical research that can improve the lives and health of the people of Georgia.”

Zwick will lead Emory’s participation in the SEEC network, working with Alvaro Alonso, PhD, from Rollins School of Public Health and Emory School of Medicine faculty members Greg Martin, MD, Arshed Quyyumi, MD, James Lah, MD, PhD, and Andrew Post, MD, PhD.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. By partnering with 1 million diverse people who share information about themselves over many years, the All of Us Research Program will enable research to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

The SEEC network will help extend the geographic coverage of the All of Us program to the southeastern states of Georgia and Florida and will strengthen its reach within underserved communities, including lower-income, Hispanic and Latino, African American, American Indian, and rural communities.

“The time is now to transform how we conduct research—with participants as partners—to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us,” says NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD.

“All of us are unique, but today we live mostly in an era of ‘one-size-fits-all’ medicine,” says Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program. “I’m alive today because of precision medicine and I think everyone deserves that same opportunity no matter the color of your skin, your economic status, your age or your sex or gender. In other words, it will truly take all of us.”

All of Us seeks to transform the relationship between researchers and participants, bringing them together as partners to inform the program’s directions, goals and responsible return of research information. Participants will be able to access their own health information, summary data about the entire participant community and information about studies and findings that come from All of Us.  

Participants are asked to share different types of health and lifestyle information, including through online surveys and electronic health records (EHRs), which will continue to be collected over the course of the program. At different times over the coming months and years, some participants will be asked to visit a local partner site to provide blood and urine samples and to have basic physical measurements taken, such as height and weight. To ensure that the program gathers information from all types of people, especially those who have been underrepresented in research, not everyone will be asked to give physical measures and samples. In the future, participants may be invited to share data through wearable devices and to join follow-up research studies, including clinical trials.

Also in future phases of the program, children will be able to enroll, and the program will add more data types, such as genetic data. In addition, data from the program will be broadly accessible for research purposes. Ultimately, the All of Us Research program will be a rich and open data resource for traditional academic researchers as well as citizen scientists—and everyone in between.

To learn more about Georgia enrollment in the project through Emory, email: allofus@emory.edu or call 404-778-1284

Follow us on Twitter: @AllofUsEmory

To learn more about the national program, please visit www.JoinAllofUs.org.

“All of Us” is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).